Court Unseals Order Conditionally Certifying Age Discrimination Collective Action Suit Against IKEA Filed By Console Mattiacci Law

Posted on Oct 07, 2019 by Console Mattiacci Law, LLC

October 1, 2019 – The Honorable Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania unsealed the Court’s May 16, 2019 Order and Memorandum conditionally certifying an age discrimination collective action against IKEA US Retail, LLC (“IKEA”) brought on behalf of IKEA employees who were age 40 or over and rejected for promotion to management level positions.

Stephen G. Console, Susan Saint-Antoine, Julie A. Uebler, and Brian C. Farrell of Console Mattiacci Law represent Frank Donofrio (“Donofrio”), a 55-year-old current employee of IKEA who asserts that the company violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) by discriminating against him and other similarly situated employees on the basis of age.

Donofrio filed the suit in February 2018, alleging that notwithstanding his outstanding performance, he has been dismissed by IKEA management as lacking potential, denied leadership development opportunities, and rejected for promotion to management level position because of his age.

In October 2018 Donofrio filed a motion to proceed as a collective action and to facilitate notice to potential plaintiffs. Donofrio alleged that IKEA has a far-reaching corporate culture in which the preference for young employees as the company’s future leaders is openly expressed and in which age bias infuses the promotion process from the top down. In support of this allegation, Donofrio put forward testimonial evidence that IKEA employees that were tasked with promotion decision-making were aware of and took into consideration what they perceived to be a broad organizational preference, at a national level, to the promotion of young employees to management positions. Donofrio further presented evidence that IKEA had a potentially age discriminatory “succession planning” policy in relation to promotion decision-making, and that “potential” ratings were used as a proxy for age-based assessments of promotability.

Judge Brody found that Donofrio presented sufficient evidence to meet the minimal burden required at the conditional certification stage. The Court stated: “Donofrio’s evidence shows beyond mere speculation that IKEA may have discriminated against older employees in promotion decisions through a discriminatory corporate culture or through its succession planning and potential rating practices. Donofrio has also shown beyond mere speculation that IKEA’s allegedly discriminatory policies and procedures could have affected all putative class members similarly.”

The Court’s Order directed the parties to confer on notice of the right to opt-in as a plaintiff to the collective action lawsuit to be sent to any current hourly retail non-management employee of IKEA who, since January 20, 2016 was age 40 or over and rejected for promotion to a management level position.

About Console Mattiacci Law, LLC 
Console Mattiacci Law, LLC is an employment rights law firm with offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Moorestown, New Jersey and New York City, New York. Since its inception in 1990, the firm has focused its practice on the representation of current, former and potential employees concerning work-related matters.
The lawyers at Console Mattiacci Law, LLC counsel whistleblower-employees who have been retaliated against and individuals who have been victimized by illegal employment discrimination and retaliation, including sex, race, religion, disability and age discrimination and sexual harassment at work. They also represent employees concerning medical leaves, disability benefits, wage and hour claims, employment contracts, severance agreements, stock option plans, and class action lawsuits.

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